Print Edition

  Email News Updates

Mercy House of the Southern Tier begins kitchen-expansion project

By Traci DeLore (


The Mercy House of the Southern Tier in Endicott has about 80 kitchen volunteers who prepare upwards of 10,000 meals each year for its residents and their families. (PHOTO CREDIT: MERCY HOUSE OF THE SOUTHERN TIER)

ENDICOTT, N.Y. — A kitchen-expansion project is underway at Mercy House of the Southern Tier that will allow the organization to serve its current residents and their families more efficiently.

“We have outgrown our kitchen, plain and simple,” Linda Cerra, Mercy House executive director, says.

With a mission to serve the terminally ill and their families, Mercy House opened at 212 N. McKinley Ave. in 2016. It has space for 10 residents at a time and has served 952 residents since opening.

When the nonprofit originally built its kitchen, it was designed to meet the needs of 10 residents, Cerra says. However, the organization quickly realized it needed to feed those residents and feed their family and loved ones, too.

“There’s some wear and tear preparing over 10,000 meals a year,” she says.

With this project, Mercy House is converting its chapel into a new kitchen and more than doubling its kitchen space in the process, Cerra says.

“It’s going to be really nice,” she adds. The organization’s menu planner, Tess Dzuba, has been working with the general contractor to help design the kitchen’s layout for maximum efficiency, as well as help choose new appliances and fixtures. “This is her wheelhouse,” Cerra notes.

PAC Construction of Endicott is the general contractor for the $380,000 project. Funding for the effort largely comes from $300,000 in combined gifts from the Stewart and Wilma C. Hoyt Foundation, the Small Community Fund, and the Lynn Craig Memorial Fund. Cerra says the project began two weeks ago and will take about 12 more weeks to wrap up.

Once complete, the new kitchen will provide more space and a better “flow” for Mercy House’s 80 kitchen volunteers, who cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus snacks every day.

“The hospitality is a big part of our mission,” Cerra says. Lourdes Hospice develops the care plan for residents, and Mercy House carries them out as a community care center. They take care of medications, laundry, cleaning, and cooking, Cerra says. “If they’re at home, that’s a lot for the family.” At Mercy House, families instead can have that time with their loved one.

Part of the hospitality is obviously the food, Cerra notes. “If someone wants a bowl of ice cream at midnight, we’ll get it.” Mercy House, through its kitchen volunteers, typically provides three or four options for the main meals, and can make residents something else if they prefer.

“Our volunteers are excellent in the kitchen,” she says. “We do not resemble a medical facility. We are a home.”

After the new kitchen is up and running, PAC Construction will dismantle the old kitchen and convert that area into a prayer/meditation room, Cerra says.

Located in the former Saint Casimir’s Church, the nonprofit Mercy House provides 24/7 care to terminally ill patients. The organization employs 25 people, including seven full time, and has more than 200 volunteers.

Thank You For Visiting